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Why Women Should Split the Bill on the First Date

by Julie Moon about a year ago in advice
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Bring equality into dating and reap the benefits

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

As a fabulously modern woman, I go dutch with my lover. This means we split checks, hotel stays, and Ubers. To me, this feels like a natural evolution towards equality. But it’s a hill I feel like I’m dying on, alone.

I’m genuinely shocked at the number of women who think men should still pay for the first date and beyond. My equally fabulous, feminist friends are acting – sorry – outdated. They don’t want men to expect sex, yet they expect dinner. That feels like a (dare I say it) double standard.

Honestly, I am so surprised at how split the internet is about splitting the bill. To me, it feels intuitive. If you want a relationship that begins with equality, start with the check. I implore you to be a good feminist and split the bill on the first date. Here’s why you gotta cough up your share.

It's a myth that men ask women out

He asked me out, so he should pay. This framework would work if men and women asked each other out equally, but they don't. The problem is that men still ask women out more often, or so they think. But I’m here to call this myth out.

Monica Moore studied five decades’ worth of courtship behavior. She found that men are more likely to engage in ‘concrete’ courtship behavior, such as asking a woman on a date. But it’s women who initiate this connection. Let’s set the scene in a bar.

Twinkle lights provide a nice evening glow for sweet, flowing cocktails. The DJ begs the patrons to come onto the dance floor by playing the latest bops. Long before a man approaches a woman for a dance, she will make eye contact with him between 4-7 times. She will indicate through body language – posture, gaze, and proximity – that she’s indeed interested.

Only then will a man approach a woman. Only then. Men are extremely unlikely to approach a woman who is giving zero signals. Men are terrified of rejection. They will go to great lengths to avoid it. So whether you realize it or not, women often make the first move.

If we think of courtship through this lens, I’d argue that it’s actually a myth that men ask women out. Women still make the unconscious, soft moves in longer forms of courtship too, whether it’s in a friend group, at work, or on the internet.

So take a second and ask, who wants this first date? If you both do, shouldn’t you both pay for it?

It’s sexist

Just because women got the short end of the gender stick – societally speaking – doesn’t give us an excuse to do sexist things.

85% of men feel obligated to pay for womens’ meals. But there is evidence that this is because women still expect them to. Just watch this video to confirm that many women still think fronting the bill is a man’s job.

But when a woman doesn’t offer to pay, men feel under-appreciated at best. At worst, it suggests that your time is worth more. But everyone’s time is precious. Spending time with someone should be a joy for both parties. It shouldn’t be something women earn or men pay for.

If paying for a woman’s meal suggests that a female’s attention is worth more than a male’s, then there are far worse assumptions that follow. Some men and women don’t see paying as ‘buying’ into a woman’s attention, they see it as transactional. A transaction that a woman will ‘pay back’ through sexual favors.

1 in 6 men thinks that they deserve some sort of sexual payoff for buying a woman a meal on the first date. That is a shockingly high number. And there is a really easy way to weed out those kinds of men and that expectation. Split the bill, babe.

Help close the wage gap

Bring your relationship into the modern era by heading into a date with equality on the mind. Equality on a date has the power to spread equality into other spaces. Women are still subjected to what is called benevolent sexism; it’s the idea that women are fragile and docile creatures in need of support and protection by a man. Under this assumption, women need men to pay for their bills, provide safety, and support us.

We know this not to be true. Women are essentially superheroines. Women make their own money, take care of their own empires, and run the world –thank you, Queen B. To agree at the dinner table that we are still fragile is to take a time machine for no reason.

Plus, nowadays, women are rich. Studies show that 30% of women are wealthier than their male cohorts. Men used to pay because it was ‘only fair’ given the massive wage gap. Granted, we’ve got a ways to go with the wage gap, but continuing to allow men to pay doesn’t help our case. The gap is filling all the time. We should do our part in closing it. Show that you too want equality by offering to split the bill on the first date.

Be a good friend

Would you expect your best friend to pay for your meal every time you went out? I can’t imagine you would. Modern relationships hold friendship at a baseline. How many romantic movies tell us to, ‘Marry our best friend?’

If you want a relationship with someone you are on a first date with, then you should treat them like a future best friend. A best friend that you might get lucky with. Thinking long term, most modern relationships include separate bank accounts, two jobs, and two incomes. And they share the wealth.

Sharing is caring. It is a way to bring consciousness into the relationship. If you want to split the domestic chores, you have to split the bill. Maybe your financials are quite different. That’s ok, have a dialogue about this. If one of the parties makes more than the other, by all means, treat your lover. But do it consciously, not just because one of you is a particular gender.

Be conscious about your relationship like you would with a dear friend. Treat each other from time to time. Be aware of each other’s financials and help one another out. That’s good friend etiquette, that’s good date etiquette.

It’s a simple gesture, splitting the bill, but it has big implications. It can decide where the relationship is headed. It can have an effect on culture and the wage gap. Splitting the bill can be the difference between a long-term partner or a one-time thing.

So ladies, offer to split the bill and enjoy the benefits of a modern relationship based on equality and friendship.



About the author

Julie Moon

Relationships ♡ Sex ♡ The feminist condition

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